Essay about Leslie Marmon Silko, “Lullaby”

621 Words Aug 5th, 2011 3 Pages
American Mosaic, July 2011

FOCUS: Leslie Marmon Silko, “Lullaby”

“Lullaby” is a short story that first appeared in a book entitled Storyteller in 1981. This was a book written by Leslie M. Silko that uses short stories, memories, poetry, family pictures, and songs to present her message. The book is concerned, in general, with the tradition of story-telling as it pertains to the Native American culture.

Lullaby seems to be a story of tradition, change, death, loss and the tensions fostered as a result of them between the old couple in the story and the Anglo-American authorities of the time. Throughout the story there are quite a few conflicts. Some are internal between Ayah and herself and others are external ones through
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She took offense at the exploitation Chato endured at the hands of the rancher that employed him, and let him go without hesitation when Chato gets too old to work. As a result they lost their home when the rancher told Chato he [and “his old woman”] had to be out of the shack [they lived in] by the next afternoon. Despite Ayah’s immense sense of devotion to Chato it seems apparent that she sees him as a weak husband and resents him deeply for it.

Though much of the story is of Ayah’s reminiscences, its present tense has Ayah searching for Chato. She finds him walking along the road late on a very cold night [seemingly] in a daze brought on by illness [and wine]. While resting together beside the road she wraps Chato in the army blanket Jimmie sent her thereby eliciting comfort from a symbol of one of her greatest losses. The lullaby she sings to him at the end of the story, as they lie together in the snow, is one that her grand-mother and mother sang to her as a child and seems to provide a sense of closure for her as she sings it. It is one of the last pieces of tradition she can cling to from her own culture as she waits for death to take her and her husband from under the cold, clear winter
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